ComReg consulting on plans for faster mobile switching

9 Nov 2021

Ireland’s Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) has published a consultation on its proposed approach to promote Over-the-Air (OTA) provisioning to facilitate faster and easier switching between mobile network operators (MNOs).

With ComReg highlighting the fact that a growing number of mobile devices have eSIMs, it suggests that OTA will allow for easier, faster switching, effectively reducing the time required to move to a new provider to minutes. Meanwhile, the Irish watchdog noted that the new European Directive for regulation of the sector – the European Electronic Communications Code – requires each Member State to promote OTA provisioning to facilitate switching and also gives discretion to regulators to define switching processes that utilise OTA provisioning. Further, the Code also requires that MNOs maintain traditional switching processes for consumers who prefer the current method of switching.

ComReg’s consultation matter is said to incorporate the findings of a study it commissioned on the options for regulators to promote OTA. In this, a number of challenges were identified regarding the adoption of OTA in Ireland, with actions to address these recommended for both ComReg and local cellcos. One key challenge highlighted is the limited level of support for eSIM for consumer devices among Irish MNOs, a factor which is claimed to have resulted in Ireland lagging international peers in eSIM support. To address the matter, ComReg has said it is ‘minded to adopt a number of actions, including mandating that Irish mobile operators … provide fully digital OTA provisioning journeys for smartphones users within twelve months of publication of its final strategy’. Meanwhile, ComReg has proposed minimum criteria for what a ‘best-in-class, fully digital OTA customer journey for smartphone users’ would entail, while also examining other matters related to switching such as the locking of handsets.

ComReg has invited feedback on the proposals in its consultation by a 17 December 2021 deadline, while it says its response to the consultation, which will include a final strategy and action plan, is expected to be completed by Q2 2022.